Tuesday, February 25, 2014

REVIEW: The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse, #2) The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: spoilers

Book 2 wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be after reading a negative review. Make no mistake. The book was bad, but it was not insufferably bad. I credit my endurance to my love of manga.

+ the characters

Ananna was a complete brat. I went from liking her in book 1 to hating her in book 2 in one second. She showed no appreciation for the food Naji brought to her, the concern he showed for her, or protection he provided for her. She whined about everything. She threw a tantrum virtually in every chapter.

Hell, immediately in the beginning the reader could see how cold hearted she was when she showed no grief over Eirnin’s death, the wizard who was helping her survive on the deadly island. The wizard may have been amoral and catfighting with her love interest, but he was nice enough to overlook Naji with and help Ananna regardless. All that goodwill, and not a fucking shred of grief. She even went on to befriend Eirnin’s killer. I wanted to push the brat off a cliff.

I was shocked how quickly and how well Ananna and Eirnin’s killer got along. Not only did the killer kill Eirnin, she was also a man-eating beast. Or perhaps it said a lot that only someone like Ananna could be friends with a man-eating beast. As they say, birds of a feather flock together.

The only reason I could tolerate Ananna was because she was a classic tsundere. Tsundere is a common trope in manga, especially in the harem type. When one reads as much manga as I do, one inevitably builds tolerance for tsunderes. It’s either that or give up manga altogether (not a chance in hell).

Naji was the most pitiful character in the story, never mind that he was an assassin with rare, powerful blood magic. Afflicted with a curse, abused by Ananna, stuck on a godforsaken island, bedeviled by supernaturals from another dimension, enslaved eternally to an order of assassins, ostracized because of his scary magic. Could his life be more miserable?

I totally understood why Naji was always stoic. How else could he survive? I hated how he never got compensated for his suffering. Talk about no good deed goes unpunished.

some supporting characters: For a man-eating beast, Ongraygeeomryn the manticore was surprisingly high maintenance and funny. She turned out to be pretty nice. She was nicer than Ananna. Go figure.

Pirate captain Marjani and Queen Saida were wonderful. They were women of authority, queer, and in a happily renewed relationship. The book won points for feminism, diversity, and a healthy romance. Though they were only supporting characters, the pair balanced out the emotional heroine (to put it nicely) and her manly stoic love interest in terms of gender dynamics. The ladies also helped keep the angst down.

+ the plot

The plot didn’t go anywhere till the middle of the book when Ananna and her companions finally escaped the island and resumed their adventure. High points were hit and miss. For example, the scene where Marjana reunited with Saida and the one where Ananna reunited with her family both felt flat. I didn’t receive the “I love you, and I’m never letting you go out of my sight ever again.”-like reaction that I wanted.


In addition, the entire plot pivoted on dei ex machina. Apparently, one manticore is all that’s needed to conquer battleships and keep the unscrupulous in check, nevermind how outnumbered and outmatched our heroes and their very tentative allies were. The super rare starstones needed for the second impossible task to break the curse? Oh, Ananna’s family had them all along. The third and final impossible task to break the curse? Magic shamelessly pulled out of one’s ass. Even so, I didn’t give a fuck because anything that got the plot moving along and wrapping up loose ends was good apple juice. I was ready for the book to be done since chapter one.

Speaking of the ending, it stinked. Ananna and Naji finally got together only to separate because Ananna wanted to return to her pirate life and Naji had to return to slavery as an Order assassin. They said they’ll see each other again, but who the fuck are they kidding? Long distance relationships don’t work out. After all the crap they went through and what I had to put up with, the pair went back to their old lives. It rendered the series pointless.

Thankfully, the ending wasn’t as cold a slap in the face as it could have been. The relationship was abusive because of how awful Ananna was to Naji. Naji deserved better. I think the reason he came to love Ananna was because he didn’t think anyone else could love him and his life was a big pile of shit. Anyway, I found some consolation in the optimistic romance between Marjani and Saida, so it was not like I was left with completely nothing.


I rate The Pirate’s Wish 2-stars for it was okay. It wasn’t 1-star because I’ve read worse, and the writing was at least succinct. Thank hell the series was only a duology. If you plan to pick the series up, I strongly recommend librarying it.

Review of book 1: The Assassin's Curse

Book Description

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

Goodreads | Amazon

Friday, February 21, 2014

REVIEW: Shanghai Sparrow by Gaie Sebold

Shanghai Sparrow Shanghai Sparrow by Gaie Sebold
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For a historical fantasy that contain “Formidable Devices, Fay, Etheric Science, Espionage, Opium, Murder and Bartitsu” — exciting stuff, it was restrained. Blech. Fantasy is supposed to be fantastic, not restrained. I found the book lacking in many ways.

+ the characters

I liked Eveline from the start. She was clever and wisely distrustful. She didn’t let the bad guys break her composure. She didn’t need anyone to tell her how much danger she was in. She knew when she was being bullshited and knew how to bullshit back. In short, she had a functional brain, unlike the many YA main characters I have read recently (Cress, The Seers, Cold Fury, The Pirate's Wish, and Altered to name a few).

I had only one gripe with Eveline, and it’s really more of a grip with the plot than with the heroine. I didn’t expect her to succeed at every turn, but at the climax I wished she had the upper hand. I wished it was pure wit that saved the good guys, not by convenient luck and improvisation. I wanted Eveline to be the heroine in her full glory, but instead she got nudged out of the limelight.

I also liked Beth, Eveline’s friend. Usually, the geek sidekick is a guy, but it was Beth instead, and I found it very refreshing the geek sidekick was a girl for a change. Along with Madeleine, I loved how there were women scientists and how they played a big role towards the end. What I did not love were how the scientists were passive, particularly at the rising action. If Eveline was absent, Beth and Madeleine were up the creek without a paddle.

Speaking of helpless female characters, there were too many for my liking. For a book eulogizing women’s empowerment, it seemed to love the damsel in distress trope. Thankfully, the plot lines for Treadwell and Charlotte wrapped up quickly and kept the angst down.

I hated Holmforth’s viewpoint. He was a big sack of self-loathing and prejudices. Being in his head, even though it was only 3rd person, pushed my limit for the foul character. I had to skim his viewpoint to salvage my enjoyment with the book. Thankfully, his viewpoint ebbed towards the middle of the book and didn’t rise back till the rising action. Just like how the heroine was nudged out of the limelight, so too was Holmforth in his role as the main bad. As a result, his comeuppance did not feel as satisfactory as it should have been. It was more like an afterthought really.

As for Liu, I wanted to like him, but the guy was too mysterious. Mysterious Liu is mysterious. I recognized that was the intention, but it really impeded me from getting to know him. I couldn’t get any sense of him other than the fact that he wasn’t an enemy of Eveline’s. At least, not intentionally. Plus, it didn’t help that he was around Eveline’s age. I kept thinking of him as her love interest. You know you read too many YA when you automatically assign any boy whom the heroine immoderately interacts with as the heroine’s love interest. Finally, it bothered me that the one important Asian character in the entire book and he was mysterious and exoticized.

The only characters who were more mysterious than Liu were the Folks, which the book called the faeries. And they weren’t mysterious as they didn’t have any character development. Throwing out a couple ubiquitous details such as how the Folks have magic and how they’re immortal does not constitute character development. Despite what a big deal they were, the Folks were never more than hazy, shadowy background characters.

+ the plot

I hated the long ass flashback at the third of the book. Seriously, it was really long. It fucking took up 16% of the book. Yes, I counted. I liked Eveline but I did not need to learn in minute detail how she lost her bourgeois family and became a hardened street urchin. I wanted Eveline’s backstory but I did not want it in one constipated infodump of a giant sob story. No. Just no.

In regard to the setting, the sense of England was strong, but the sense of China was pitifully weak. Even though the setting alternated between England and China, it was set in England like 80-90% of the time. The few scenes that did take place in China honestly felt like they could have taken place anywhere else. The book would have been better off set entirely in England and in a Chinatown of England. “Far Eastern steampunk” my ass.

Well, at least there was steampunk because there was not much of anything else. The espionage was underwhelming. The etheric science was nebulous. The historical side was thin. It’s like expecting real fruit juice but receiving some carbonated shit made with 10% real juice. This reader was highly disappointed.


I rate Shanghai Sparrow 2-stars for it was okay. The book was a classic case of all that glitters was not gold. The only thing the book got right was the dynamic heroine. On the bright side, this book was still better than the Spiritwalker trilogy by Kate Elliott beginning with the fact that the book isn’t a dragged out trilogy.

Book Description

Shanghai Sparrow is a Far Eastern steampunk tale of espionage, distant empires and thrilling exploits, with a dynamic heroine.

The British Empire is at war, both within and without.

Eveline Duchen was once a country child, living a life of privilege, touched by the magic that still clings to the woods and fields of Victorian England. Now she is a street urchin in a London where brutal poverty and glittering new inventions exist side by side, living as a thief and con-artist under the wing of the formidable Ma Pether.

Caught in an act of deception, Eveline is faced with Mr Holmforth, a gentleman in the service of Her Majesty’s Government, who offers her a stark choice. Transportation, or an education – and utter commitment to Her Majesty’s Service - at Madam Cairngrim’s school for female spies. The school’s regime is harsh. Eveline has already learned harder lessons. She plans to take advantage of everything they can teach her, then go her own way.

But in the fury of the Opium Wars, the British Empire is about to make a devil’s bargain. Eveline’s choices will change the future of her world, and reveal the truth about the death of her sister Charlotte.

Shanghai Sparrow is set in an alternative England and China. It contains Formidable Devices, Fay, Etheric Science, Espionage, Opium, Murder and Bartitsu and may not be suitable for those of a delicate disposition.

Goodreads | Amazon

Sunday, February 9, 2014

REVIEW: Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach

Honor's Knight (Paradox, #2) Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every bit as good as book 1, and more; book 2 dazzled me. Every time I thought I knew a character or the situation, the book blasted me with new details and showed me how wrong I was and how little I knew. I know the saying “there are two sides to every story.” I knew it was the message the book was sending. Nevertheless, I still got my ass handed to me.

+ the plot

The book started off slow for me because I didn’t like following memory-wiped Devi. I hate to see beloved main characters in a helpless position. The inexplicable emotions, the strange floating creatures only she could see, the “dreams” she was having. Devi began to doubt her sanity. Who wouldn’t? Thankfully, the torment didn’t last long, and that was when the book really began for me.

Once she quickly regained her memory, she gained some answers from Caldswell. Hurray for answers! I LOVE IT when a series doesn’t make me wait for them. Those answers were the phantoms, those strange floating creatures only plasmex users could see. And somehow she could too, because she was not a plasmex user. The phantoms were invulnerable aliens who traveled around outer space, and occasionally a big one would effortlessly destroy a planet for no discernible reason. The human governments kept it a secret because imagine the panic. The fact that only plasmex users, less than a hundred in existence and very short-lived, could kill these phantoms? Panic.

Devi immediately realized it was the virus she contracted on the alien ghost ship back in book 1 that gave her the special sight. The virus also made her The Most Wanted Person In The Universe. It’s no exaggeration to say she could save the world or bring it to its end. It’s a fucking virus. Book 2 is about what Devi going to do with it as the only carrier. Cue moral choices. Lots of them.

The action was nonstop and BREATHTAKING. My pulse rate and mind was never at rest. I was constantly wondering how the fuck was Devi going to escape her predicament and what was she was going to do next. Every path seemed to be a death trap. One wrong move and BOOM, everyone dies. No do-over.

+ the characters

I loved Devi. Loved her. She was fucking tough as nails. The only time I thought she made a stupid was when she went to a Paradoxian noble for help after everything she had learned about the conspiracy with the phantoms. I swear, her Paradoxian loyalty will be the death of her. Thankfully, things quickly worked out. It was amazing to watch Devi make like a contortionist and pull a Houdini. Go, Devi!

I still don’t really care for Rupert, but I admit he’s growing on me. It helped that Devi immediately stopped being a lovestruck fool when her memory was restored and gave the bastard some deserved asskicking in more than one way.

Mabel being a warrior was a surprise because I should have seen it coming. I knew there was more to that overly cheery, super-competent mechanic. Nevertheless, she still remained an enigma like her cat. In book 1, I learned about Nova and Hyrek. In book 2, I learned about Basil, Ren, Caldswell, and Brenton. Now I understand why Basil is so perpetually cranky. Everything about Ren was tragic all around, and I was grateful the action-packed plot saved me from dwelling on the matter, along with all the other sad matters.

With Caldswell and Brenton, I couldn’t keep from thinking one was the bad guy and one was the good guy. It took me a while to learn that no matter how much I learned about these characters, I wasn’t going to ever get the “full story.” That for all my attempts to judge them and play god, I couldn’t. It didn’t feel right. Matters were so gray. Even loony Maat was sympathetic, and I trust her as far I could throw an elephant.

The only characters that didn’t have my sympathy were the war-loving, man-eating, slave-owning xith’cal race. I cannot imagine in any way they would be misunderstood.

Finally, Anthony. He wasn’t in the book, not even as a passing reference. In book 1, Anthony wanted to help Devi, and she cut him off. During her escape, I would have thought she contact him for help. But no, she went to a Paradoxian noble stranger. Ergh. Kind of a plot hole where Anthony is concerned.

+ the moral choices

Some examples: Is biological warfare ever acceptable? At what point is the cost of saving the world too high and inhumane? Could the cost ever include sacrificing your children? Sacrificing the few for the many, where does the line stop?

That last question was the one I thought about the most. I couldn’t help but feel the characters’ thought process, including lawful Caldswell’s, were distinctly American. To be specific, culturally individualistic. Sacrificing the few for the many, no matter how inhumane, is a no-brainer for some collectivistic cultures. I don’t know how to feel about the lack of representation of that ideology in the book and how the closest thing to such a representation are through the aliens. At any rate, I don’t envy the characters for the responsibilities they’re forced to bear.


I rate Honor’s Knight 4-stars for I really liked it. Book 2 was a thriller science fiction, and I was definitely thrilled. The series got EPIC. Please let the series ends well.

Review of book 1: Fortune's Pawn

Book Description

The rollicking sequel to Fortune's Pawn an action packed science fiction novel.

Devi Morris has a lot of problems. And not the fun, easy-to-shoot kind either. 

After a mysterious attack left her short several memories and one partner, she's determined to keep her head down, do her job, and get on with her life. But even though Devi's not actually looking for it trouble keeps finding her. She sees things no one else can, the black stain on her hands is growing, and she is entangled with the cook she's supposed to hate.

But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there's worse fates than being shot, and sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.

Goodreads | Amazon

Saturday, February 8, 2014

REVIEW: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (Lunar Chronicles, #3) Cress by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was disappointed with book 2, but I still liked the series. Cress is book 3, and yup. It’s official. The series has lost its luster for me. Scant progress. Scant character growth. Book 3 was essentially the same as book 2, more running away and hiding. Yeah, there were some plot twists here and there and a couple new characters, but our heroes were still running away and hiding, and doing a piss poor job of it.

+ the plot

The book started remarkably slowly considering what had happened at the end of book 2. I had hoped the momentum would persevere. The action didn’t pick up till almost a third into the book, and it only happened because our heroes let down their guard again for like the tenth time. The action lasted for a few chapters, ebbing back to boredom. Cress and Thorne’s plotline, the meat of the book, was minimally interesting because they did very little progressing the plot.

In sum, action scenes were far and few and frustrating. They only seemed to happen because our heroes could not for the sake of their lives maintain vigilance. How many times must they get ambushed before they learn to stick in group, always carry assload of weapons, make exit plans, and so forth?

Making matters worse, their plan to save the world was to crash Queen Levana and Emperor Kai’s wedding so Cinder could reveal the truth and demand the throne back in front of the cameras. Bitch please. Queen Levana would sooner grow a bouquet of flowers out of her asshole before she ever surrendered. I couldn’t believe this was the best our fairy tale heroes could come up with. Thankfully, Cinder reunited with Dr. Erland who told her straight up how incredibly stupid her plan was and gave her another plan.

The new plan was to go to Lunar and start a revolution. Bring the fight to the tyrant and bring the oppressed people hope and the truth to their face that their Princess Selene was still alive and fighting for them. Of course, like the unprepared dimwits our heroes were, they didn’t have any idea of how to do it. I kid you not when I say our heroes hoped luck would accomplish things for them. By the way they were constantly improvising, it was sure as fuck weren’t going to be through intelligence and strategy. About the only time our heroes knew what the fuck they were doing was at the climax, which was a merciful relief however brief it was.

+ the characters

Cinder & Kai: I thought Cinder experienced significant character growth at the end of book 2. I thought too optimistically. While it was frustrating watching her trying to control her Lunar abilities, what was really frustrating was watching how terribly she lead our heroes. As a cyborg, she has no excuse. Download some leadership guidebooks and stop operating on ignorance. She also should discard her silly fear of becoming like Queen Levana because of her powerful Lunar abilities. It’s fucking ridiculous how Cinder thought she could become anything like that tyrant. At this point, I don’t give a shit for realism and wish she would Mary Sue up.

At least Cinder and Kai are a perfect match. To say Emperor Kai is a terrible leader is to put it nicely. Dude’s an idiot, too idealistic for his own good. I still cannot get over the fact that he accepted Levana’s marriage proposal in book 2 and continued to think things will somehow work themselves out in book 3. The dude actually thought he was saving millions of lives by sacrificing his to the evil queen. On the bright side, he didn’t deny the sure-as-fuck chance the tyrant would kill him quickly after their exchange of “I do”s.

Scarlet & Wolf: Scarlet got captured and Wolf turned uselessly emo. Scarlet’s contribution in book 3 was to only introduce the reader to Winter, the next damsel in distress for book 4. Wolf’s contribution was to be a listless meatbag for Cinder to practice her Lunar mind control power over.

Cress & Thorne: These were the star couple of book 3, the eponymous damsel in distress and her dashing rogue of a spaceship captain. I liked Cress in the beginning because of how shamelessly honest she was of her role as a damsel in distress and how funny she was in assuming Thorne to be her knight in shining armor. Their romance poked fun at fairy tale tropes. However, the humor wore off quickly for me, and I became bored and impatient for Cress to toughen up.

Thorne, I liked. He was one of the very few characters who were useful. Even when he became blind, he didn’t let his handicap stopped him from kicking ass and rescuing Cress again. As silly as Cress was with her helplessness, dreams, and sob story, her romance with Thorne was still a big step up from Scarlet and Wolf’s angst-filled romance. Cress and Thorne were honest and open about their feelings, which is a lot more than I could say for the other fairy tale couples.

everyone else: I still loved Iko, Cinder’s sassy android. I eyerolled at Dr. Erland and his sob story, pardon my cold heart. I thought he could have done a lot more to help our heroes and his poor self, but mostly our heroes. Seriously, our dimwit heroes needed all the help they could get. I hated how the doctor succumbed to his regrets at the end. Queen Levana was still as wonderfully hate-able as ever. I had hoped for some character development and to learn how she became a tyrant, but didn’t get it. Oh well. Maybe in book 4.


I rate Cress 2-stars for it was okay. I expected too much from it, but meh. The only thing I can really say is that the book didn’t disappoint me as much as it could have, and that I haven’t lost all my excitement for the next one, unlike with the Crewel and Angelfall series.

If you loved book 1 and book 2, ignore this review and pick up book 3. You’ll likely love book 3 too.

Book Description

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

REVIEW: Vodnik by Bryce Moore

Vodník Vodník by Bryce Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book was fun as expected. What attracted me was the non-American setting and an underused mythology. The book delivered Slovakia and Slavic mythology. The mythology portion consisted of a fire spirit, a water spirit, a ghost, and a grim reaper. I admit it sounds generic. But as a big reader of urban fantasy, anything that isn’t vampires and werewolves, Greek/Roman mythos, Celtic mythos, or Norse mythos is a cheery break. Unfortunately, it was a shame that the basis for the Slovakian setting was flimsy.

+ bad parenting

In the beginning of the book, I didn’t think much of Tomas’s family moving back to his mother’s homeland. They moved back because they wanted to maintain their middle class-ish lifestyle. Their money would go further in Slovakia with what little they had left after their home burned down. I was skeptical about his mom becoming a teacher (and thus, the breadwinner) and his dad becoming a writer, but I didn’t think it was particularly impractical.

But as the story unfolded and I learned more about Slovakia, I learned it was a wonderful place to visit but a horrible place to live, especially if you’re Roma, a.k.a. Gypsy. Racism ahoy. Tomas was only a quarter Roma, but he looked Roma enough to be discriminated against. Pretty much, being Roma in modern Slovakia was like being black in the civil rights years of America. Not only that, he was also rejected by the Roma because he was too foreign.

In Slovakia, there is universal healthcare, which seems good... until the reader learns bribery is a way of life. I got eye sore from eyebugging hard at Tomas when he thought going into crippling debt to get healthcare in America was on the same level as needing to bribe unreliable, untrustworthy, racist doctors to get healthcare in Slovakia. As if!

Let me put everything on the table. Tomas was an outcast in school back in America because of his scars. (I believe the isolation had to do more with his being shy, but for the sake of argument let’s take Tomas on his words.) When he moved to Slovakia, he was still an outcast. Only this time instead of just being discriminated against for his scars, he was also being discriminated against for his race by everyone, including his own race. Police treated him like a crook; who gives a fuck if he’s the one needing help, no such thing as a good Roma. The local boys bullied him; just what a shy boy could ever want, being ignored back in America was boring~♫. The doctors would have to be bribed if he get hurt; money does go further in Slovakia, physically into other people’s pocket as bribes. Tell me again why his parents wanted to move back to Slovakia.

Let’s not forget the supernatural things that wanted Tomas dead. But I don’t blame his parents for that. Everything else I do blame on his parents. Oh my gawd, these parents! I don’t doubt they love him, but I seriously question their parenting. They knew these things, but they moved back willingly anyway, and for such flimsy reasons. Had the reason been that a high-paying job forced them to, I wouldn’t have been mad as hell. This leads me to think it’s not so much a case of poor parenting as it is a case of poor writing. To be specific, a poorly thought out reason for the hero to be in Slovakia.

+ the characters

On the bright side, there was no Disappearing Parent Syndrome. Tomas’s family played a big role, especially towards the end. Tomas’s cousin Katarina was kickass despite her illness. It was nice to have strong female sidekick that wasn’t the hero’s love interest. I chuckled when Tomas learned Katarina was his cousin.

I didn’t care much for Tomas in the beginning, but that’s because I don’t care much for self-pitying heroes. There were moments when I didn’t like him, and those were when he got bullied. Logically, I knew he couldn’t fight back, but emotionally, I wished he did, logic be damned. My sense of justice demands satisfaction! It took some while but I eventually liked Tomas as he shed his shell and unleashed his inner fire (figuratively). I liked how his strength came from his self-confidence and how he work hard to build it chapter by chapter. For all the abilities he discovered he always had, they were useless to him if he didn’t have self-confidence. I liked how he overcame his fears and turned them into his source of power, literally in the supernatural sense.

As for the antagonists, the supernatural characters were too wishy-washy for my liking. It was dizzying how one moment they wanted Tomas dead and the next moment they helped him. Good grief, make up your damn mind. There’s a limit to how much a character can be trotted out as a red herring.


I rate Vodnik 3-stars for I like it. The book concluded satisfactorily despite a few loose ends. While it doesn’t take a lot of effort for me to imagine how those loose ends might be resolved thereafter, a second book would be a joy to have. Not only was the book fun, it was meaty. It surprisingly covered a lot of issues: social, youth, health, and family. I really wish there was a second book.

Book Description

Teacups: great for tea. Really sucky as places-to-live-out-the-rest-of-your-eternal-existence. Very little elbow room, and the internet connection is notoriously slow. Plus, they’re a real pain in the butt to get out of, especially when you’ve gone non-corporeal.
When Tomas was six, someone–something–tried to drown him. And burn him to a crisp. Tomas survived, but whatever was trying to kill him freaked out his parents enough to convince them to move from Slovakia to the United States. Now sixteen-year-old Tomas and his family are back in Slovakia, and that something still lurks somewhere. Nearby. Ready to drown him again and imprison his soul in a teacup.

Then there’s the fire víla, the water ghost, the pitchfork-happy city folk, and Death herself who are all after him. All this sounds a bit comical, unless the one haunted by water ghosts and fire vílas or doing time in a cramped, internet-deprived teacup is you.

If Tomas wants to survive, he’ll have to embrace the meaning behind the Slovak proverb, So smrťou ešte nik zmluvu neurobil. With Death, nobody makes a pact.

Goodreads | Amazon